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FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The $21 million Pinnacle Credit Union found that even keeping a branch’s doors locked and requiring members to be buzzed in has not been enough to deter attempts to rob an oft-robbed branch. The branch is located in a private development north of Fort Wayne that has somewhat high crime areas a few blocks to its north and south, according to Donald Simpson, Pinnacle’s CEO. The confluence of locations has made the credit union branch a popular target among nearby thieves and has led to two previous armed robberies, Simpson explained, so the credit union finally resorted to installing a permanently locked door to the facility which employees inside would have to unlock via a switch at their teller’s station to let anyone inside. “Our members did not react badly to it,” Simpson explained, “because they too wanted to be safe and needed the credit union branch where it was.” Simpson said the credit union branch is a “high transaction” branch for Pinnacle and does approximately half of the 5,400-member credit union’s monthly transactions. Even though it is a high transaction branch, the tellers recognize who the regular members are and so can buzz them in, Simpson explained. The barriers have helped everyone, tellers and members, feel safer, he added. But the degree of confidence both tellers and members put in the CU’s barrier was recently put to a test when two men, dressed in black and wearing ski masks, apparently did not realize that the door was always locked and that the only way to gain entry was to be buzzed in. On Oct. 31 the men approached the credit union and tried to enter but found the door locked. The credit union tellers did not open the door so Simpson said the men reached into a bag and drew out a crowbar that they used for a few moments to try to jimmy open the locked door, which held. When the door showed no sign of giving way, the credit union’s tellers were on the phone to the police. The two men abandoned their effort, ran to a parked car and drove off down the street. Because alert credit union members and tellers were able to describe the men’s clothing and the car, police were able to track the men down, arrest and charge them for the attempted robbery. Simpson said the credit union’s employees were relieved but still somewhat shook up by the incident and said Pinnacle had declined to release their names to minimize the risk there could be any attempted retaliation against them for having called the police. -

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